ATASCADERO — After about a year of planning, Wysong Construction will soon begin construction of one of their keystone projects, the Atascadero High School Science and Shops, according to Co-director of Support Services Brant Lloyd.
Architectural design by Ravatt, Albrecht & Associates has been completed and plans have been approved by the Division of the State Architect. Bond money allocated for the project will just about cover the bid by Wysong Construction to complete the project, but to make up the difference, the school board voted unanimously to accept a recommendation by Assistant Superintendent Jackie Martin to move funds over from the anticipated Del Rio project. A new version of the high school’s Black Box Theater will be the next domino in AUSD’s list of projects, replacing the ‘B’ building, which is set to be demolished soon. All other bond projects will continue as planned.
“Science is a unique beast to teach,” Co-director of Support Services Stu Stoddard said, while stressing the time and devotion the construction partners took in developing the project. “We don’t get four walls and a chalkboard. We have more that goes on in the science classroom.” Stoddard said his team met with the science faculty at AHS to collaborate on the needs of the project.
“We believe that Mr. Wysong and Wysong Construction gave us a very fair shake,” Stoddard said. The project’s current estimated cost is $11,126,342, which is 2.7 percent below the original bid.
“We had squirreled away $9.7 million for this project, that doesn’t quite cover this good deal that we have gotten.” Stoddard said, recommending the Board approve monies from the anticipated Del Rio project to cover the overages for the project.
“We were able to put Del Rio in the very fine Paloma Creek location,” Stoddard said. Superintendent Tom Butler explained that the new location of Paloma Creek High School (formerly known as Del Rio) suffices in sound existing structure and does not need the bond money slated for the site at this time.
“The design team garnered the needs and desires of all potential stakeholders,” said Lloyd, who mentioned there is close $1 billion of bond money in play in this county. He said this puts pressure on competing for local construction resources. “The law of supply and demand is obviously alive and well,” he said. “For at least the time being we continue to receive competitive, comparative pricing from our construction partners.”
The new construction, which will be built in the area of the existing student parking lot, will be made of eight over-sized science classrooms and affiliated lab prep spaces. Additionally, the project specifies a new shop complex that consists of two distinct 2,400 square feet metal and wood shops that are separated by a communal classroom, Lloyd said.
Stoddard added that each classroom will be about 1,300 square-feet, about 500 square-feet larger than the ‘average’ classroom. They will operate with a classroom lab with its own prep area in a singular space. The rooms will share emergency showers and storage as well as autoclaves and washing machines. The split level complex will consist of an upper courtyard, surrounded by the science classrooms. The three main buildings will mid-century modern-style structures with high ceilings. Building ‘A’ will house biology and shops. Building ‘B’ will house chemistry and building ‘C’ will contain physics, astronomy and Earth science. The exterior spaces, Stoddard said, will be just as important as the interior spaces, with plazas and concrete creating vibrant communal spaces during student break times.
Superintendent Tom Butler remembered a time when the district was looking at a $25 million price tag.
“We would have had an excessive amount of unused inventory at the high school,” Butler said, adding that he likes the idea of having science right there with the shops. “It would not have been the most fiscally prudent move. I think we’ve got something that’s really going to meet the needs of our science teachers. They’ve been very involved in things. These are going to be gorgeous, big classrooms. Kids are going to be able to move around. Labs can happen at the time while a teacher be instructing in another part. They can go back and forth — should be a really nice hub for this campus.”
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